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While I take great pride in my professional growth of the last three years, especially the last 12 months, I frequently worry I am not growing enough or as quickly as I’d like.

I read a diverse range of blogs and articles that I discover through my wonderfully insightful PLN (personal learning network) via Google Reader, Facebook, and Twitter, and it seems the more I read and dialogue with others, the more I worry that I may not be adapting quickly enough to the changing information landscape.  On a bigger scale, technology is changing our society and culture whether we acknowledge this change or not.

How might these changes affect the role(s) I have to play in the lives of my students?  My role within our school?  How do I need to respond to these changes to make my library program even more relevant and meaningful in our learning community here at Creekview?  What technologies or cultural shifts do I need to give more attention that might change the way a school library may function in the next year or the next five years?

Three different pieces have caused me take pause and wish I had a better ability to peer into the future and to figure out what I need to do to stay ahead of the curve and to better adapt my current concept of a school library to the changes that are taking place around me.

Howard Kurtz had this to say in “The Death of Print?” in yesterday’s Washington Post:

The people who run such companies bear a considerable share of the blame. In 1993, just before the Internet became a consumer force, I argued in a book that newspapers had become too cautious, too incremental and too dull, tailored largely for insiders. The rise of hugely profitable monopoly papers in most cities made them increasingly bland, seemingly allergic to controversy.

Then the Net changed America, but newspapers remained mired in two-dimensional thinking. They created sites that were largely a static replica of their print editions. There was little updating, little sense of the dynamism of the Web, and when I started writing a blog for in 2000, I had little company in the mainstream media.

The missed opportunities were endless.

On April 30, Joyce Valenza had this to say in her Neverending Search blog:

What is clear is that a lot of smart people–people who are out there teaching, speaking, moving, and shaking–are disappointed in what they see when they see school librarians.  Either we have a perception problem or we need to do some serious retooling.  I’d say we have to deal with both.  In a hurry.

Being an information (or media) specialist today means being an expert in how information and media flow TODAY!  It is about knowing how information and media are created and communicated. How to evalute, synthesize, and ethically use information and media in all their varied forms.  It is about being able to communicate knowlege in new ways for new audiences using powerful new information and communication tools.

Forgive me if it hurts.

In my mind, if you are not an expert in new information and communication tools, you are NOT a media specialist for today.

Doug Johnson shared this worry on May 10 in his Blue Skunk blog:

Some days I feel great about what I do – when someone e-mails or comes up to me at a conference to say that I have been helpful to them. But I also wonder what the hell I have been doing for the past 20 years when more school library positions and programs are in greater peril than ever. Either my strategies are flawed or the message hasn’t gotten through in my work trying to make the profession more relevant, more critical, and less dispensable to schools.

These three pieces have me stirred up this morning—I’m  trying to think hard, to reflect deeply, to see beyond the familiar—am I missing opportunities to make my library program more relevant to our students, teachers, administrators, and community?  Are we ignoring the warning signs and tremors that may portend major changes in the way school libraries function in the not so distant future?  Are we willing to think outside our comfort zone, to possibly give up the way school libraries function now for something that may be far different but even more powerful for 21st century learning?

I’ll be thinking long, hard, and critically about this question while I look diligently for opportunities this next year to make my library an authentic agent of change in my school.

4 thoughts on “Tremors

  1. It is great to go through this thought process, to evaluate where you are and where you are heading and contemplate how you may need to change your course to meet the needs of those you serve – you are already miles ahead of many others who do not do this and just continue on their way, blindly believing that what they are doing is what needs to be done without a thought for what they should actually be doing.

    School Libraries are dynamic places and require constant evaluation and re-evaluation.


  2. There are times that I, too, worry about these things… and then I think, “wait – is it better to be close to the edge, cutting edge or bleeding edge?”

    Thing is, sometimes we get so caught up in keeping up, in learning about the Neat New, that we forget to do the reality check of “why do we need this? will this really move the curriculum forward? will students respond or is this an Adults Only thing?” That pause for reflection helps, as does seeing what others are doing and realizing that my pedagogy and practice are not that far from the edge.

    I think the only people that really worry about not keeping up in the way that you’re describing are those that feel they must be bleeding edge. Me, I’d like to be near the edge because it’s a safer place to be than on the edge for both me and my students. By that I mean that if I can see practical applications and feel a sense of commitment to the program/technology, it’s better than continually flitting from idea to idea to technology to technology.


  3. Hi Laura!

    I like your concept of the “bleeding edge”!

    When I was working on my M.Ed. in Language and Literacy Ed., I took a course with the brilliant Dr. Bob Fecho about literacy as inquiry. Our essential guiding question was a simple but profound question: “Why are you doing this?” That course was a real turning point for me in 2002 as it impacted the way I try to approach my practice as a classroom teacher and as a teacher-librarian.

    Thank you for your feedback, and I am going to embrace your idea of the bleeding edge!


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